Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Always My Favorite Issue


 The Jan/Feb issue of Poets & Writers is out. One of my favorite issues - the 12 debut poets for the year. The past couple of years I have known someone on the list. Not so this year. Based however on past experience with this list I need to get busy looking for some of their material. Those selected in the past have generally been a great crop of poets and for the most part they are very good reads.

Also there is a delightful piece that was written by Kim Addonizio titled First Thought, Worst Thought. Kim provides poetry exercises to inspire writers.

I haven't read it cover to cover yet, so there may be more gems awaiting me.


Monday, December 29, 2008

W.S. Merwin featured on PBS News Hour

W.S. Merwin has become one of my favorite poets over the past couple of years. At 81 he is still quite an active writer and has yet another book coming out  "The Shadow of Sirius."

PBS has done a profile and featured some of his poems and it can be seen on their web site here. I enjoyed it. I think it's worth taking a look at.

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Sunday, December 28, 2008

Seasons Forgiving

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035 Having a glass of Chardonnay and wishing it were morning rather than evening. Daylight has slipped out of sight and in its place is the evening before back to the office.

I ventured out today and shot some pictures along the Missouri River and other places close by. Still a bit of snow lingering here and there but we'll see more of it before long. Winter is yet young.

I pity those poor souls who do not have the ability to experience seasonal changes. Their internal clocks must find the year very long and unforgiving. Having four distinct season is like having four times during the year to feel like there is a fresh start.

The clock we look at to see what time of day it is, is simply a man made arbitrary measurement to time. So is the calendar. But the seasons, they are natures clock.

It's probably a poet thing to prefer natural timing to some artificially contrived medium.  

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Our Vision of the Muse

PolyhymniaMuse-of-Lyric-Poetry Here we have to the left, Polyhymnia the Muse of lyric poetry pictured. I fully understand the mythological creation of the muse of various entities but I am altogether amused by our common day practice of viewing our muse in perhaps an erotic representation. Almost a pornographic implant in the mind as if this is the necessary level in which one must go to the be creative. An arousal if you will. And maybe arousing that something within is what is necessary to move into a creatively fertile mode. Sure, it's fun on some level to suppose that our muse sits at the edge of our desk, long legs exposed, in some flauntingly evil way to attract our attention and impose upon us some grand element of creative juice that sparks our creative libido.[Insert apologies to my female readers who surely have a different image in mind. Or maybe not.]

Our typical vision of the muse calls upon us to look to an external source. I suppose we've all had examples of persons or even inanimate objects that have provided us with a spark of imagination that was the breakthrough of some piece of art. But I feel like deep down inside each of us, that's where the muse really is.

I know that all around us are beautiful, startling, magnificent, frightening, majestic, myopic, shocking and luminescent things that give us pause and allows us to think beyond the moment. But I suspect it is the inner muse within our own minds and not some mythology that takes those things we see and experience and goes outside the box and makes of them something new and allows us to give birth to that which is uniquely ours in a collaborative conception with our inner muse.

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Friday, December 26, 2008

San Francisco airport to feature carbon offset kiosks - News-


Here's a positive story for the spaceship earth~!

updated 9:50 a.m. CT, Fri., Dec. 26, 2008

SAN FRANCISCO - San Francisco International Airport is planning to give guilt-ridden travelers a chance to offset the air pollution emitted from their plane rides.

San Francisco airport to feature carbon offset kiosks - News-

Two Voices Lost this Week

Harold Pinter's death on Christmas eve marks the second loss in less than a week of British writers known for their outspoken criticism of war. The other was poet Adrian Mitchell who died a last Saturday.

Pinter's career as a playwright earned him the 2005 Nobel Prize for Literature. He was outspoken publicly and often critical of the United States and even his homeland for their various foreign policies and was blisteringly critical for their parts in the Invasion of Iraq.
At one point of his life, he wrote poetry under the name "Harold Pinta."

Adrian Mitchell was a prolific poet. Like Pinter, often in the public eye with critical words for the misuse of political power and a champion of the underprivileged. I happened to be reading last Sunday at an event and chose one of his poems written during the invasion of Iraq titled "Playground." In a 2005 poll conducted by a poetry organization, his poem, "Human Beings" was voted the poem that people most wanted to send into space in the hope that it would be read a century later

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

From Me to You....

Christmas_Lights Just an quick note to wish readers a safe and joyous holiday season.

Peace to one and all.....

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Inaugural Poet Below Radar to Most

When President-elect Obama is sworn into office the nation will hear from a poet that few of us have even heard of. Elizabeth Alexander's Wikipedia bio is shot and clearly substantiates the argument that her recitation on January 20, 2009 of a poem written by her, especially for this occasion will constitute he 15 minutes of fame.

Alexander was born in Harlem, New York in 1962. She grew up in Washington, D.C. so the so she is no stranger to the nation's capital. She received a B.A from Yale University, an M.A from Boston University, and a Ph.D. in English from the University of Pennsylvania. She currently teaches ay Yale.

Alexander is not without honors. Her fourth poetry book "American Sublime" was a finalist for the 2005 Pulitzer Prize, and she was awarded a National Endowment for the Arts creative writing fellowship as well as an Illinois Arts Council award.

Reading several of her poems today, I was not on the whole impressed. Of the ones I read, only Blues from her book, Body of Life struck my fancy. Of course I've not read but a half dozen of her poems, and she'll be writing one specifically for the occasion, so there is hope that in those few minuets she will shine. What I am most happy about is that Obama has again placed poetry in a prime time slot for America.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Poetry Roller Coaster 0r the Ups and Downs of the Poetry Market

Last night my wife and I watched a DVD rental from Red Box. Out of respect to my wife, I will not mention the title. She thought it was so bad, that she remarked, "Dear God, the sad thing is there is a paper trail that links us to it."  It was in fact pretty bad, but as I reviewed what was available, it sounded like a good idea at the time.

More good news / bad news on the poetry economics front...

Cecilia Woloch emailed me with news of a new Literary Journal so I'm passing the information on to all my readers Check out San Pedro River Review.  I'll scoot over there and check it out myself and suggest our readers do as well.

It's getting late, I'm off to journal a bet yet for the night.


Thursday, December 18, 2008

Mark Your Calendar - Local Poetry Events

Main Street Rag Poetry Showcase

December 21, 7PM

Join Shawn Pavey, co-founder of The Main Street Rag Literary Journal, for an open mic reading and holiday party at The Writers Place. The cost of admission will be a snack tray or any of your other holiday favorites, beverage of your choice, or any other holiday cheer that you wish to bring.  There's no sign up list, and the party goes until we're out of poems or can no longer stand, whichever comes first. 

New Year's Celebration Reading- 4th Annual!!!

January 1, 12PM-12AM

Start the New Year off right at The Writers Place with our fourth annual New Year's Celebration Reading and Open Mic. Sign up to perform original music or your own poems and short stories. $5 suggested donation. Questions: 816-753-1090

From my journaling this past week

Journal bits—

Saturday, Dec. 6th -(listening to an interview by of Katie Lederer, Hedge Fund Poet and editor of Fence) It’s important for writers and other artists to report – our work can be a form of anthropology.

Monday, Dec. 15th-You threw out a song like a bouncer / throws out disgruntle patron / who’s drink privileges were cut shout / not soon enough.//

not to oversimplify, but our massage / is not as harsh as it sounds / but it is with the honesty of clothing / hung out on a line.//

Wednesday, December 17th- I am amazed at the orderly disintegration of both wealth and the overall economy all around me. It’s like there is so much inter connection of the economic fabric of society that everything can’t quite collapse because not everyone can account for their assets at the moment at hand. But you know it is coming.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Wind , Wind go Away

The wind is unmerciful. Yesterday we drove to Columbia, Missouri - a quick down and back trip and the cross winds on I-70 were a awful. Lat night they tore the top off our covered swing on the deck and they are bringing sharply colder temperatures. I suppose winter will not be denied.

I wrote for two hours late last night and the writing itself was a positive thing but I was working on a rewrite of a poem that I admit I am trying to force through in spite of the fact that I am well aware this approach never works well for me.  I've backed off it again and vow not to even look at it today. I'll revisit it in the future.

An email today from the infamous Dana Guthrie Martin Funnelcake reports on Splash Poetry and I'm pretty sure they weren't in Miami. Kudos to Mimi for organizing the event. She unfortunately lost her glasses in the dive.

Dana writes: 

O! And Mimi lost her $400 glasses in the lake during the dive. I propose that we raise funds to get her a new pair. Doesn’t she deserve it? She organized this entire event, after all. Maybe I will go around to some eyewear stores with the Seattle Times story in hand and see if any of them want to come to her rescue. It could be a whole thing: the Glasses for Poets Project. Poets like Mimi need to see, after all. They have vision.

E-mail me if you want to chip in for Mimi’s glasses: mygorgeoussomewhere (at) gmail (dot) com.

Also see, For poetry's sake they jumped in the lake

Other Poetry news...

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Local (Kansas City Area) Poetry Workshops

A plug for four different poetry workshops this spring-

Missi Rasmussen will be offering a two workshops on the Park Hill High School Campus:   Registration Information

  • January 7th, 14th, and 21st (Wednesdays -6:30pm-8:30pm)
  • March 4th, 11TH and 18th (Wednesdays - 6:30pm-8:30pm)

And she will teach two other workshops at the Oak Park High School Campus:  Registration Information

  • February 4th, 11th, and 18th (Wednesdays - 6:30pm-8:30pm)
  • April 6th, 13th, and 20th (Mondays - 6:30pm-8:30pm)

Missi is president of the Kansas City Metro Verse a local chapter of the Missouri State Poetry Society. She is a recipient of the  Nicholas Manchion English Scholarship Award at Park University, and was a 2007 Pushcart Prize nominee.

Poetry That Won't Compromise

My previous post was a simple statement from Brad Holland. No additional commentary, just his quote which I now repeat.

Many of the contradictions in Postmodern art come from the fact that we're trying to be artists in a democratic society. This is because in a democracy, the ideal is compromise. In art, it isn't. ~Brad Holland

For most of you, the name Brad Holland will likely mean nothing. It meant nothing to me till I ran across this quote, which I’ll admit to instantly taking a liking to.

Holland is an illustrator who was born in 1947, so he is my senior. He was born in Ohio, and began drawing at an early age. He sought employment by Walt Disney, but was turned down. He started school at the Chicago Art Institute, but decided it was too restrictive for his liking. He went to work at a tattoo parlor and later too a regular job at Hallmark Cards in the mid 1960’s and spent his off hours developing a serious portfolio. In 1967 he moved to New York with his portfolio and from there made a name for himself as an illustrator. Freelancing, he became perhaps most notable for his work in Playboy magazine, Avant Garde magazine and various other publications. In 1977 he published Human Scandals, a social commentary using ink drawings.

While Holland is not a poet, he is truly a student of the developing history of art and culture. I have found a degree of cynical humor in some of his statements, but the one I have focused on for this post seems pretty straight forward. I think what he is saying is something which I whole heatedly agree with, but perhaps would never have quite been able to articulate it as well as he has here.

There are two points about this axiom which I believe stand out as fundamentally sound. One is the tendency to treat most of what we do in the constraints of what we believe principals of democracy. That is to say, we naturally fall into the trap that in society what the majority of the people perceive as “good” or as “acceptable” is just that. It is the cumulative value of the majority view. The other fundamentally sound argument Holland makes is that is that this is exactly what art is “not.”

Let me shift back to poetry for the rest of this discourse. It is after all, an art.
When it is said that the job of a poet is to name the unnameable (a concept that we've all heard and I believe is attributable to Salman Rushdie) I think one has to expect that poetry has to take us to new places. It may be in the way words are utilized, it may be in physical location of those words on a page… their presentation, or the metaphorical image, but above all it is not the same old standard commonplace usage of language that everyone expects. It is not simply the cumulative value of how most people see something.

It is true that some people want to hang a still life painting of a bowl of fruit on their wall that looks exactly like you could reach into it and pick up an apple. To paint that well indeed takes skill. It is a craft that not everyone can or has mastered. It would however be a contradiction to the concept of postmodern art which settles not for carbon copies but originality, not cookie-cutter art but for audaciousness.

And so my question to artists, but especially poets is, what two or three things most prevents you from freeing yourself of being an artist/poet in a democratic society tradition?

Monday, December 08, 2008

Think About It....

Many of the contradictions in Postmodern art come from the fact that we're trying to be artists in a democratic society. This is because in a democracy, the ideal is compromise. In art, it isn't. ~Brad Holland

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Publishing & the Future

About a week ago I blogged on the the news that a major publisher, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt had advised their editors stop acquiring books.  This news signals that the economic meltdown has come to the publishing houses as well.

Another sign is renewed talk in the industry of the pitfalls of the book return policies by publishers. Allowing book stores to return unsold books is a costly expense. It requires the books to be transported multiple times and has become a hefty drain on publishers profits. Many of these unsold books will eventually be destroyed.

Booksellers resist changes in the credit arrangements that essentially guarantee that a book sells or will be replaced with another one which has the potential to sell. Many booksellers would dramatically reduce their inventories without such credits.

Such changes in the retail sales model could have negative consequences on a growing number of new writers that will find it increasingly challenging to find their way onto bookstore shelves.

Japanese publishers may be ahead of the curve. The Japanese publishing house Shogakukan Inc. has introduced a two-tiered distribution system for retailers.  Under this plan Booksellers can take books on a consignment basis which would be returnable at no cost or they can choose a non-consignment option, which offers a better profit margin for the retailer, but carries an charge if the books are returned. Such changes may be inevitable in the U.S. as well as long as consumers continue to prefer ink on a page they can hold in their hands.

Reports that the Kindle electronic book reader is sold out for the second Christmas season in a row would be positive news for those who believe the future of publishing is e-publishing. That future may still be some distance away.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Staying Centered Away from Community

During the months of November and December our poetry society chapter elected to meet once a month rather them twice a month as usual. 

It's not that I haven been writing, but it seems the result of this reduction in meetings has left me feeling a little off balance or something.  These interactions with other writers would seem to have a centering effect on what I am doing. 

I'm wondering if others that participate in group meetings with other poets/writers or any other arts related community find that such meetings provide a grounding or other beneficial impact on their work, to the extent that their absence over a period of time leaves them feeling some kind of tangible loss to their vocation or avocation.

If you've experienced something similar I'd me interested in hearing about it. Am I the odd one here or is this common?

If you've feel this same kind of impact to lack of contact with your own writing community, what kinds of things have you found to compensate for it's impact upon your own work?

Thursday, December 04, 2008

The Smart Set: Wedding Bells? - November 10, 2008


Ask a Poet
Wedding Bells?
Advice and insight from a professional poet.

By Kristen Hoggatt

I am a poet currently in graduate school. I just finished a sestina. Do I owe Dana Gioia any royalties?
— A.K., Lincoln, Nebraska

The Smart Set: Wedding Bells? - November 10, 2008

When I ran across this recently I just cracked up.  Go check out the whole thing.  Especially if you need a laugh.

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Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Nixon tapes: Ruthless, cynical, profane - First Read -

This morning I heard some of the newest released Nixon tapes on the MSNBC Morning Joe show.  I've heard several times in recent years people talk about the Nixon presidency as though he got a bad rap from the public. Those who were not yet born in those days or not old enough to recollect what it was about the man that motivated his actions, these newly released tapes paint an interesting character portrait of what I would consider a deeply disturbed man.

Nixon tapes: Ruthless, cynical, profane - First Read -

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Unconscious Mutterings Week 205

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Unconscious Mutterings ~ link
Word & Thought Associations  

here's mine:


  • Sleepy :: Tired
  • Thanksgiving :: Parade
  • Fifteen :: minutes
  • Authority :: Government
  • Bangs :: uneven
  • Curled :: up and died
  • Young man ::
  • Surprised :: Startled
  • Mistake :: Error
  • Handle it :: Deal with it
  • Letter Writing

    Snow fell upon our fair city overnight. The ground was covered this morning and the dogs romped in it. It's gone from the roads and much of the yard has already given it up. I haven't heard the forecast but the sky looks like it held some back perhaps for later today.

    Yesterday, a rejection letter visited my e-mail. I guess that means I'm just one more no closer to a yes.

    I've started reading Letters of Ted Hughes, and while I am not far along in the book yet, I've realized that even in general correspondence with family and friends he was masterful with language. His descriptive examples often quite poetic. There is no amount of creativity lost from his ordinary writing, which is really to say there is nothing quite ordinary about his writing at all.

    With letter writing all but dead in this day and age, I imagine anyone still doing it would be hard pressed to make their letters quite as interesting as Ted did. I am certain that as I get further along in the chronology of this book I will discover other most interesting facts about Hughes and as well as those in his circle of influence. I do so enjoy the biographical and psychological aspect of the lives of poets through their journals and letters. It's not quite voyeuristic but I suppose it is a bit like looking for the pathology within a poet's mind.

    At any rate, you can count on me posting any other significant observations as I read on. 

    Friday, November 28, 2008

    Out For a Drive

    The flames rise on either side of the curves

    and the fall wind threatens to spread the colors

    about the ground.

    The asphalt with shapely hips allures countless lookers

    trusting the calendars will not deceive them

    or waste their valued weekend.

    A new delight awaits past each camber;

    imperial topaz and alexandrite flickers in the autumn sky

    subdued only by the occasional rust, tan or brown filament.

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    A Bear Market for the Arts


      Under normal conditions the outcome of the Presidential election might well have been one to favor the arts.  There were signs that Obama acknowledged that art plays a significant role in society and examination of McCain's various policy statements showed his public policy on arts education to be quite contrasting. Additionally McCain had a well known record as he voted repeatedly to cut funding for or terminate the National Endowment for the Arts. 

    But these are not ordinary times. Today is supposed to be the big retail day of the year and shopping results will likely be disappointing to those who mull over the the sales stats looking for a some kind of trend. 

    The economy that is being transferred from the existing administration in Washington to the new President Obama is dismal. Employment figures are taking a beating. Sales of big ticket items, cars, homes, etc. are stalled and investments in traditional commodities and job creation are in decline. It is not likely that as the song goes, "Happy Days are Here Again."

    Poets & Writers online features a story this week that  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt recently requested that its editors stop acquiring books.  We are talking about a significant sized publisher here.

    In these hard times that are likely to grow even more worrisome in the months ahead, it is hard to see how the arts will likely benefit from much philanthropic activity if business are fighting for survival.

    Small publishing houses who often find it hard to make ends meet will be challenged even grater. I can't imagine the state of writing grants improving.  These things surly will make the competition for those looking to get their first manuscript published more exigent.

    It is hard to see the way out of this economic calamity that we are in, but I might suggest that if you are one who is still doing Christmas/holiday exchanges, you might consider giving a new copy of one of your favorite poet's works that was published by a small press.  It's a place to start.

    Wednesday, November 26, 2008

    A Long Short Week


     These three days have been long ones. I've been so anxious for the holiday to start because I truly need a break. But enough of that, it's here!

    Tomorrow being thanksgiving I suppose I should take inventory of that for which I am thankful, and there are so many things both large and small. As I make a list here, keep in mind two things... first, this list is in no way inclusive. Second, that order is not reflective of importance. With that disclaimer, here I go.

    • MY FAMILY - my wonderful wife and my four children who are all adults now and each one make me proud.
    • MY HEALTH - which is reasonably good and what issues I have are well managed.
    • MY JOB - at a time when the economy is at a point of great uncertainty, I'm grateful that I have a job.
    • BASEBALL - even when it's over for the year, there is the hope it brings with spring.
    • BOOKS - food for thought, entertainment, and the simple beauty of language therein.
    • HOUSE RERUNS - my addiction
    • CHARDONNAY - an occasional glass
    • WRITER FFRIENDS - their honesty and the time they give in critique of your work.
    • C-PAP MACHINE - this I have a love hate relationship with.
    • FALL COLORS - reds, rusts, amber and gold.
    • CALLS FROM MY KIDS - knowing they are safe
    • $1.37 GAL GAS - what I paid today!
    • MAPLE SYRUP - in limited amounts.
    • OUR CAR - the commute would not be possible otherwise.
    • SLEEP - as needed.

    I'm sure I could go on, but where would I stop?  So, I stop here.

    photo credit:

    Saturday, November 22, 2008

    Food for the Imagination

    Photo_102508_005 At the left is a maple flavored coffee drink that I indulged in while back  at a poetry reading/book signing event. I think maple has to be my favorite flavor.  I should have been born in New Hampshire or some other northeastern state.  I'd have my own maple tree tapped and would lie under it and let it drip into my mouth. Okay, it wouldn't do anything foe my diabetes, but it would sure improve my disposition.

    I broke down yesterday and ordered a copy of Letters of Ted Hughes (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, edited by Christopher Reid.  Since I have an extensive collection of books on Hughes and Plath, it would only be fitting that I add this to my collection. There is however a larger reason to the purchase. I find the journals and correspondence of poets to be fascinating. I've managed to read all or most of several such works. Sexton, Lowell, Ginsberg Letters, and Plath's Letters Home as well as Journals. The Poets Notebook which has excerpts of the journals musings of some 26 poets. I always think know more about a poet and what goes on in there mind should enhance our appreciation for their work. Of course I'm not sure that I can prove anything in particular by reading and studying such writings, but it is interesting to allow one to draw broader conclusions at times based on the expanded knowledge of a poet that comes with reading their letters or journals. These conclusions may or may not have much validity, but the speculation feeds the creative imagination of one's own brain.  And oh how I love to feed the imagination.

    Friday, November 21, 2008

    What Poets Do....

    I've been a little lax in blogging of late, so I will try and catch up a bit tonightPhoto_090608_001.  It's been a long week and I am so glad that Friday has arrived. It will be so nice to have a short work week next week.

    I elected to pass on the Mia Leonin reading at Rockhurst University last night so I'm unable to provide a review.  Instead before retiring last night I read some of the poetry of W.S. Merwin and Dana Goodyear.  Two poets I enjoy but quite different in style.

    This week I ran across a short but dynamite explanation on the net written by Joe Carter entitled What Poets Do. In the simplest of terms, Carter discusses what poets do that makes them invaluable. Yes, I said invaluable. With all the usual suggestions that poetry is closer to irrelevant then not, such words pulled my eyes out of my sockets. I recommend taking a peek at his explanation here.  

    Wednesday, November 19, 2008

    Poetry Happenings

    Wanted to note a few items of interest - First off is Issue 23 of RIGHT HAND POINTING is out....  Dale Wisely is editor.  Dale always seems to put together a worthwhile read.

    Tomorrow night...  Thursday, November 20th - the poet Mia Leonin will appear at Rockhurst University as part of the Midwest Poets Series. She is of Cuban-American descent. Her credits include two book of poetry; Braid (Anhinga Press, 1999) and Unraveling the Bed (Anhinga, the Van K. Brock Florida Poetry Series, 2008). She received a Green Eyeshade Award
    for theater criticism and was selected as a fellow in the NEA/Annenberg Institute on Theater and Musical Theater. She received an Academy of American Poets Prize, a Money for Women Grant by the Barbara Deming Memorial Fund, and a 2005 Florida Individual Artist Fellowship. She teaches at the University of Miami. This is a special treat for Rockhurst in that Leonin was a 1990 Graduate of Rockhurst University.  There is a reception at 6:00 PM and the reading begins at 6:30.  For information about this series or other Rockhurst University cultural events, call The Center for Arts & Letters (816) 501-4607 or (816) 501-4828 or visit

    Monday, November 17, 2008

    Unconscious Mutterings Week 303

    Unconscious Mutterings ~ link
    Word & Thought Associations

    here's mine:

    Please stop :: quit
    Move over :: outta my way
    Sweet as :: candy corn
    Bet :: gamble
    Mad about :: you
    It’s over :: split-up
    Intend to :: plan
    Blame :: game
    Jefferson :: airplane
    Heartless :: bitch

    Tuesday, November 11, 2008

    Unconscious Mutterings week 302

    Unconscious Mutterings ~ link
    Word & Thought Associations

    here's mine:


  • Coverage :: full
  • Cynical :: attitude
  • Gust :: wind
  • Improvised :: poor
  • V :: victory
  • Guests :: lecturer
  • Brutal :: torture
  • Grant :: funding
  • Pull :: drag
  • Streaming :: vegetables

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    Sunday, November 09, 2008

    Stop Blogging?

    I suppose I owe a credit here to Robert Peake, so Let me get it out of the way before I go further into this. I will do so for three reasons.

    1. It was after reading his post Blogging, Reincarnated that I was lead to Paul Boutin's Twitter, Flickr, Facebook Make Blogs Look So 2004
    2. By my citation of Peake's blog I am actually acknowledging that I read someone else's blog, thus affirming the relevance of such a practice to me.
    3. While I have no way of knowing if this is the case, Robert may actually achieve some boost to his ego by my mentioning his blog. In any event, doing so is harmless.

    It is true what Boutin writes about how blogging has evolved into something that become an industry. It is also true that most bloggers will never have the draw of a Daily Kos, The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan or Wired Blogs.

    When I started blogging this blog, (though there was one earlier) in September of 2003 I had no delusion, no expectation that my blog would be read daily by tens of thousands of people. I am not now looking down the long barrel of disappointment and feeling threatened by any of the big name bloggers. Suggesting that if I quit now I would be in good company because Jason Calacanis who made millions blogging gave it up is insignificant to me. Perhaps if I made millions at anything I might give it up to tend to dealing with my financial portfolio in these turbulent times but I'll cross that bridge when it becomes a problem.

    Blogging going mainstream is in fact a tribute to its success. Oh I know, success can be too much of a good thing. Boutin suggests that Twitter, Flicker and Facebook make blogs look so, 2004ish.  Many people have taken social networking to these levels and maintained blogs at the same time. And yes many of the big name blogs have become impersonal.  That is not necessarily true of the countless other bloggers who are not commercialized.

    The niche of writer and or poet bloggers fills a large void that has become a part of the changing social fabric in our culture.  In recent years we've seen dozens of publication of the correspondence between peers - the likes of Robert Lowell, James Wright, Helen Bishop, Ted Hughes, Anne Sexton, etc. In the days when U.S. Mail was full of folksy letters and banter between people, writers had a chance to openly express themselves on a more intimate level with other writers. The present day writers has lost that touch. It is not necessary for me to feel I am being read by thousands upon thousands of other writer/poets. There is however a benefit in that smaller networking, from sharing trials and tribulations, rejections, successes, writers blocks and new ideas with a few others and at the same time listening to them as well. 

    Twitter has caused a good deal of interest among some people. I could argue however that it is just taking mass instant messaging to another level and instant messaging is so 1990ish.  I have a facebook. I broke down and did one, but largely because of the messages from the countless literary journals that have a presence there and a few people who (coughing here) actually have blogs. It is a connecting source but hardly the same as blogging.

    Boutin may actually be able to persuade some people to stop blogging. But if he is successful in making his point that blogging is really so passé he could wake up one morning and find that no one is reading Wired's Blog. But that would give his argument a whole lot of credit.


    Saturday, November 08, 2008

    Conversation with myself


    When a writer is engaged in the creation of a novel, there is an audience that he/she should have in mind. I've never quite accepted that premise where writing poetry is concerned.

    It seems to me that when I am writing poetry I am having a conversation with myself. Quite frankly the process will rise and fall upon the very nature of internal conflict within this very conversation. I think it was Frost who said (and I am paraphrasing) that he never knew how a poem would end till it did. That underscores a good part of the conversation that takes place. This is true when in draft and it continues in rewrite.

    I think the distance between poetry and philosophy can be placed on a pin head. It is during this creation process that some of my great philosophical battles with myself occur. Sometimes taking issue with long held notions. Sometimes standing something on end to see how it looks from a different view. This is true with the message but also is true with the form the message takes.

    An example of the latter would be that sometimes I like to throw punctuation out the window and at other times I cannot convince myself that it works without it.

    If someone were to ask me to describe poetry, my answer today, (and tomorrow this may be different) poetry is the sum of my parts jumbled. They may not look like me, or mirror my life experiences, but the product reflects an assemblage of who I am. My poetry is my biography.

    This is different from "confessional poetry" in that it is not to say that what I write is about me or about my life. It is rather about what who I am can conger into image. This is what happens when I am in conversation mode with myself and a pen.

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    Friday, November 07, 2008

    Journal Bits

    A few bit and jottings from my journal recently...

    • vases stand tall/and empty on coffee tables/that seem lost without coffee./green plants offer no proof/of authenticity
    • quote from Charles Simic - "The sense of myself existing comes first. Then comes images and then language."
    • The asparagus was green/with envy next to the Julian carrots./My therapist would ask/how this makes the carrots feel.

    Poetry and the President

    No one doubts that President-elect Barack Obama has a very full platter. With all the critical transitioning, staffing decisions and planning for the serious financial crisis it seems he still has time for a little poetry. There a strong indication this President will be a strong supporter of the arts.

    Three days post election, Obama was seen carrying a book of poems by the West Indies Nobel laureate, Derek Walcott, Those my age will recall another President who exhibited a fondness for poetry, John F. Kennedy. Will we see another poet employed in the inauguration ceremony? And if so, who might we see?

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    Wednesday, November 05, 2008

    The Day After Election


    I was not surprised at the outcome of the general election last night though I will admit that I was a non-believer just a few short months ago. I was then convinced that Hillary Clinton was the stronger candidate. In the weeks that followed the Democratic National Convention brought me to the point of believing.  I have been immersed in Democratic Party politics for many years and what I witnessed down the stretch was perhaps the closest think I've seen to a perfect election campaign.  I am well aware that there were a number of things that led to a favorable climate for Democrats, but that said, there was no way this election would just fall into our laps.

    After eight years of a president that has taken this country to a number of new lows and brought himself to a status of insignificance, America is not willing to settle something less than they believe they deserve. Ready for change, Barack Obama became the change that a majority of Americans could believe in.

    The laundry list of problems facing the new president is daunting. It's almost enough to thank maybe the Democrats would be better letting the GOP claw itself out of the hole it dug for us. But more of the same is what you get when you keep trying things the same way. Democrats would be letting the country down if the cowered from the tasks ahead.

    There are a number of things that went through my mind last night as Obama was giving his victory speech at Grant Park in Chicago.  There was the irony of the history of Grant Park and the demonstrators and police clashing there in 1968 during the Democratic National Convention. I also thought about the fact that in spite of several who have tried, America has never elected a Vietnam War Veteran President and this is likely the last one who will be of the age to try.

    Last night was transformative in so many ways and the election of the first African American to the nations highest office is but one of those ways. It is clear to me that the polls clearly show broad support across various demographic groups. Gender, race, religion, age... clearly the fifty state strategy showed a log of confidence in the candidates message. In fact for all of the McCain charges about Obama on taxes, his support among those earning over $200,000  a year was substantial.

    America is ready to turn not just a page in it's history but move on to a whole new story. Obama and the nation face multiple serious issues immediately. Obama is not a magician.  Before the election he made it clear that economic turmoil  we face will temper some of what we can undertake immediately. What I believe will benefit our country is a more inclusive attitude in the oval office. Do you recall Bush pledging to bring this nation together after the 2000 election was over? Well, I suppose he has in one respect.  It is out of the catastrophic failures in foreign policy, economic policy and loss of American standing around the world that he has brought us together.

    Americans have rejected the many failed policies of the past eight years. They have expressed the view that hope is desirable to fear.  That they will not easily buy into wild charges of campaign-bait rhetoric.

    After the past two elections with razor thin margins and periods of uncertainty, it was refreshing to learn the outcome by 10:00 p.m. central time. The election gods smiled upon us.

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    Tuesday, November 04, 2008


    California, Washington, Oregon Have gone to Oboma and the election has been called already. There will be more added to this as the night goes on, but this is a resounding result and very unlike the long drug out 2 previous presidential elections.

    I'll wrap up with more thoughts tomorrow.

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    Going out on a limb here

    I'm no longer thinking in terms of an Obama win, but now I'm questioning how big. At the beginning of the day I anticipated a baseline of 311 electoral votes.  I figure California, Washington, Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Nevada and Hawaii should all end up Obama. I'm willing to consider Virginia and North Carolina, Missouri as tossups that we may and may not win. The rest should be safe McCain.

    Adding what I I've mentioned above, I see Obama getting to 336 and perhaps higher. How much longer I blog tonight is in question.  I'm likely to fold after California or Florida - whichever is called first. Then, tomorrow I'll do a wrap up with some thoughts.

    Just a thought

    California has 55 electoral votes and with Obama at 200 votes now, it's hard to see California not going Democratic. That would leave 15 electoral votes needed. Only 15 votes and there are 7 in Iowa where he has been up in the polls, 7 in Oregon and 11 in Washington that are also likely to go Democratic.  So Florida, Indiana, Virginia and everything else is just gravy if he wins it, or insignificant of not.

    It's not over, but very likely over.


    The electoral vote stands at 175 to 76 at present. As it stands now, McCain is still able to find a way to victory but there are states that are important to him that Obama is competitive in that McCain would need. Several in fact. Florida is looking very good for Obama. Even heavy GOP areas are under performing. Indiana and even Virginia remain too close to call. I have to say Indiana looks very good.  But as I say that, Obama with 20 votes and last election Red has flipped to Obama.

    This now puts Obama at 195 - McCain would now need to find 20 votes somewhere he did not anticipate.  The networks are not calling it, but I have to believe Florida and Indiana simply look unlikely for McCain with areas still remaining to report.

    Where will the Flip Come?

    Florida? Ohio? Indiana? I think Indiana will go Obama when the NW Urban area comes in. It should break heavy Democratic and so hopefully we'll know something soon.

    Tennessee has been called for McCain. No Surprise there. Polls are closing in more states. Kansas has been called for McCain. Minnessota, Wisconson, Michigan to Obama

    Wyoming and North Dakota (a tossup state) have gone to McCain.

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    Patiently Anticipating Indiana

    Still looking for a call in Indiana as this could be a flip.

    Meanwhile, Elizabeth Dole lost her Senate seat as it goes Democratic.

    Alabama - 9 votes to McCain as is Georgia with 15 votes.  Come on Indiana.

    MSNBC Calls Pennsylvania for Obama

    McCain's strategy has now cracked as Obama has been called for Obama. They spent so much time there and this is a blow to the candidates efforts. This is however a defensive win for Obama. It is after all a Blue state so it isn't a steal.

    Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Rhode Island, Connecticut, D.C., Pennsylvania now all in Obama's Column.

    Democrats pick up a seat Senate seat in New Hampshire.

    McCain winner in Oklahoma, South Carolina, Kentucky.

    Something Should Be Breaking Soon

    Less then 30 minutes till more polls closing.  Still looking for a sign, a tangible sign other then Obama  playing well in several Red states. Looking for that first instance of one candidate or the other punching through and turning a state. Until this happens, we don't know enough to anticipate the outcome.

    My own state (Missouri) closes at the top of the hour but it will likely be close and therefore late before the results are known. MSNBC calling South Carolina for McCain but totally expectable.

    The Count Begins

    Watching the election returns as the polls in the east have started closing and initial returns have not told a lot but there is a whisper of hints.

    Two states appear to have gone as expected Vermont with 3 electoral votes to Obama and Kentucky with 8 votes to McCain.  What is would tell us more would be Virginia and Illinois.  Both are close at this point. Both were Red states and both have been considered states that are in play and perhaps attainable for Obama. Illinois has an urban area in northwestern part of the state and as long as we stay close till those returns are in then the state will remain in play.


    Hope is that thing with feathers that perches in the soul and sings the tune without the words and never stops... at all. ~Emily Dickinson


    You Can Make It Happen

    Sunday, November 02, 2008

    The Word for the Week is Change!

    There is definitely a change in the air this weekend. Perhaps that's a good omen with Tuesday being election day. Yesterday morning I awoke to a dense fog that hung well above the ground.  It was reminiscent of some of those civil war pictures you see of battlefields.  Then, this morning I want out to make a diet coke run and the geese had returned to the ball field across the street. It's always exciting to see them back. It amazes me that they show up here every year.

    Time for Unconscious Mutterings Week 301

    Unconscious Mutterings ~ link
    Word & Thought Associations

    here's mine:

  • In love :: Glowing
  • Be my guest :: Go ahead make my day
  • Number one :: Numero Uno
  • Swallowed whole :: Gulped
  • 50 percent :: Gridlock
  • Made in :: Japan
  • Supplement :: Dietary
  • Right for :: Perfect
  • Endless :: Night
  • Ceramic :: Pottery
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    Friday, October 31, 2008

    First Draft: Leonardo Likes Gulls: Campaigning in Poetry

    First Draft: Leonardo Likes Gulls: Campaigning in Poetry

    The first thoughts that come to me...

    • You sing in poetry; you hum in prose.

    • You dine in poetry; you snack in prose.

    • You live in poetry: you exist in prose.

    Wednesday, October 29, 2008

    Baseball slips into the black hole of fall

    Ah, a win for the Phillies! I know many didn't think this World Srries was the big glitzy one they had hoped for, but of the final teams in post season, these were the two I wanted to see. I would normally be drawn to root for the NL team with a few exceptions, so a Phillies win is fine with me. Still, The Rays had quite a run this year and I am happy for them none the less.

    Of course with tonight's game I am now at that point where baseball now falls into the black hole of winter, not to return till spring. There is a sadness that comes with that.

    "It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in the spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone." - Bart Giamatti

    On another note, yesterday afternoon I was in a waiting room at the Doctor's office and was drawn by the late afternoon quiet void of activity to scribble out a draft of a poem. There, I mentioned poetry in my blog post. I feel so much better.

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    John McCain / Sarah Palin

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    Sunday, October 26, 2008

    The Colors Among Us

    Autumn is a second spring where every leaf is a flower.  ~ Albert Camus

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    Unconscious Mutterings Week 300

    Unconscious Mutterings ~ link
    Word & Thought Associations

    here's mine:


  • Contemplate :: The Thinker
  • In the house :: Doctor
  • Classical :: Music
  • Quest :: Johnny
  • Best friend :: rare companion
  • 1991 :: Gulf War
  • Never will :: definitive
  • Fool :: bamboozle
  • Unhappy :: Sad
  • Best man :: Best bud
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    The leaves & cold of fall

    Yesterday afternoon I stopped by Boarders Books in northland to see local poet Rebecca Stallard read from her new book of poetry and and sign copies.  The book, And the Birds are Singing is available here.rebstal1          

    This morning I mowed the front lawn. The air was crisp and fallen leaves laced the lawn. Just a preview of more to come.

    This time of year is a mixture of things I like and things I dislike. Usually about October I start feeling the effects of the shorter days and it manifests itself in the form of feeling melancholy, especially in the early hours after rising in the morning. I use a special lamp which has lessened to some degree the impact but the period October through say March can be rough. This is not to say I don't find enjoyment in fall and winter. I prefer the cooler temperatures to hot summer days. I love the multicolored landscapes that we have available to us in Missouri. 

    After the end of the World Series I miss that baseball goes away. Football just doesn't have the same magic that baseball has.

    It seems that fall is ripe for writing. I don't know if it is the stark changes that occur but there is something that seems transformative and this seems to feed the creative process. I seem to often get a boost in my writing output. I don't mean quantity so much as I do that I seem to be happy with more of what I write.

    I've actually given thought to signing up for nawrinomo but I don't know if I can break myself away from poetry for a month to write [insert shudder here] fiction.

    Friday, October 24, 2008

    Md. Police Listed Green Group As Terrorist : NPR

    Md. Police Listed Green Group As Terrorist : NPR: "Nation
    Md. Police Listed Green Group As Terrorist
    by Libby Lewis
    Audio for this story will be available at approx. 7:00 p.m. ET
    All Things Considered, October 24, 2008 · Three staff members of a Chesapeake environmental group were surprised to learn they were spied on by Maryland State Police and named as suspected terrorists on a state list. The state police has acknowledged it spied on anti-death penalty and anti-war activists."

    Gee you just never know do you. So many terrorists and so little time.
    We went through this kind of shit during the Nixon years. It gets old.

    Wednesday, October 22, 2008

    Three Poetry Events in a Row in Kansas City

    Thursday 10-23 6:30 PM Charles Simic
    Mabee Theater Rockhurst University
    54th Street and Troost Avenue
    Friday 10-24 8:00 PM Dan Jaffe Reading Writers Place

    3607 Pennsylvania

    Saturday 10-25
    Rebecca Stallard
    Reading and book signing
    Boardwalk Shopping Dist.
    Just off N.W. Barry Rd & I -29

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    Tuesday, October 21, 2008

    The space inside the poem

    Inside my empty bottle I was constructing a lighthouse while all the others were making ships. - Charles Simic

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    Monday, October 20, 2008

    Like they say, if you don't play you can't win.

    Patting myself on the back for submitting work to a venue I've never tried before. More because I submitted than anything else. Last year I submitted a lot of work early in the year and had great success. Then there was a brick wall. as a result, this year I have been lax in sending material out. Not lax in writing, so I'm not feeling like I've been lazy or anything, just not so focused on the administrative side of things and more on the art itself. That is a good thing isn't it? I think so. Still a balance between the two would perhaps be more desirable.

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    Unconscious Mutterings Week 299

    Unconscious Mutterings ~ link

    Word & Thought Associations

    here's mine:

    Magical :: Mystery Tour
    Shrimp :: Cocktail
    Project Runway :: Fashion
    Economy :: Tank
    Porch :: Front
    State of affairs :: dire
    .com :: bubble burst
    Fifty cents :: Rap
    Ripping :: Christmas
    Bull :: Shit

    Correction on Rebecca Stallard's Reading

    Please note that I made an error with respect to the announcement of Rebecca Stallard's Reading this coming Saturday- Is is at Border's but I was thinking Zona Rosa Shopping district and that would be a competitor to Boarders. It is on the opposite side if I-29. It should read Border's Books - just off N.W. Barry Rd and I-29 in the Boardwalk shopping district in Kansas City North on Saturday, Oct. 25th 1-3PM.

    I will make the correction by edit in the original post as well.

    Sunday, October 19, 2008

    The Series I Wanted!!!

    Well, assuming I couldn't have my Giants in the World Series, I wanted to see the Phillies  and the Rays.  Hot Damn!!!  They finished off Boston tonight.  Great pitching. It's time for fall ball!!!

    CHARLES SIMIC - Thursday - Oct 23 - Kansas City - Rockhurst University 6:00 p.m.

    The Midwest poets series in Kansas City has once again tapped a top flight reader for its reading series. Poet Laureate Charles Simic, Pulitzer Prize winner, SimicMacArthur Fellowship recipient, and winner of the Wallace Stevens Award will be here to read.

    Simic has as I count them, something like 28 books (but that is more fingers than have and I may be off by one or two) of which four were released just this year.

    The event is at Mabee Theater located at 54th Street and Troost Avenue on the Rockhurst Campus in Kansas City, Missouri. Reception at 6:00 p.m. - Reading starts at 6:30 p.m.

    Kansas City - 75,000 turnout for Obama

    Following the record crown Obama drew in St. Louis earlier yesterday, he found Kansas City supporters awaiting his arrival 75,000 strong. Recent Rasmussen poll shows Missouri: Obama 52% McCain 46% an important number given the fact that Missouri the last two elections was a red state.

    Is the spread that wide in Missouri? I wouldn't call Missouri a safe state for Obama, but if the turnout is high in St Louis and Kansas City, both Democratic strongholds, 2008 might just go blue. A video clip of Obama in Kansas City can be seen here.

    Saturday, October 18, 2008

    Record Crowd in Saint Louis for Obama

    Missouri Republicans must be seeing blue tonight.... Over 100,000 turned out in St. Louis earlier today for an Obama rally. This surpassing the previous record crowd of 75,000. large_obamastlouisIt is on to Kansas City here in the western part of the state where another large crowd is growing for an evening rally.

    Anxious to see what we draw here. I don't expect anything like 100,000 but the crowd has been growing nicely.

    Wednesday, October 15, 2008

    Book Reading & Signing Saturday Sat. Oct 25th

    rstallardFront_Cover_262x400Local Kansas City area writer Rebecca Stallard will appear at Boarder's Books - Border's Books - just off N.W. Barry Rd and I-29 in the Boardwalk shopping district in Kansas City North on Saturday, Oct. 25th 1-3PM.

    Stallard will read from her book And the Birds are Singing, a poetic narrative that chronicles four generations of a family, their happiness and desire for laughter against a backdrop of their tragic hereditary plight

    Rebecca Stallard is a member of the K.C. Metro Verse - a local chapter of the Missouri State Poetry Society. Her book is an extraordinary work of ancestry and poetic style.